Salt Lake let West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee down on Thursday. Despite attempts to keep the state’s IT hub away from CITU’s brand of “ceasework” politics, attendance in Kolkata’s Silicon Valley remained a mere 15 per cent.
The chief minister had requested the Left-affiliated IT Services Association to stay away from the strike and had even provided police escorts to the pick-up vehicles of IT firms in Salt Lake’s Sector V On Wednesday, the newly-formed union had promised that it would not be a party to CITU’s strike call. But the CPI-M’s labour wing took the final call.
Salt Lake wore a deserted look with a handful of IT employees crowding the few odd tea shacks outside their offices. While Cognizant Technology Systems recorded 30 per cent attendance — the highest, West Bengal IT Services’ Association (WBITSA) general secretary Somnath Bhattacharya said the strike was a major success. He, however, refused to accept any conflict of interest between the association and state government. WBITSA organised street-corner meetings and distributed leaflets, besides running whisper campaigns among employees, Bhattacharya said.
The WBITSA general secretary said despite the chief minister’s claims that IT be considered among essential services like power and healthcare, he said there was a need to recognise aspects of the industry “that were actually essential”.
Meanwhile, in Kerala life was crippled as the Left unions enforced their 24-hour shutdown to protest the Centre's economic policies. But for the IT and BPO sectors, it was largely business as usual.
At Inforpark in Kochi and Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala's two major IT hubs, it was like any other working day. “Almost all the companies functioned. Some employees came in convoys and others sought police protection,” said Technopark CEO N Radhakrishnan.